The Dark Forest Audiobook
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The Dark Forest audiobook free
It’s hard to know where to begin talking about The Three-Body Problem trilogy (officially known as the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series), a truly staggering piece of science-fiction written by Chinese author Cixin Liu and translated to English by Ken Liu and Joel Martinsen (Liu did books 1 and 3, while Martinsen did 2). A trilogy that spans literally thousands of years, deals with quantum physics, game theory, sociology, religion, space exploration, space colonization, and more, all driven by the nature of first contact with alien intelligence – there’s a lot going on in this series, and that’s before you start realizing just how much Cixin (reminder: Chinese names are traditionally written with the family name first and the given name second) truly takes on the advanced science of his ideas. And yet, when you finish it, you realize that you’ve read something truly incredible – a piece of hard science-fiction whose ambition, scope, richness, and ideas are impossible not to find yourself thinking about for days afterward.
Once you read The Dark Forest, the series’ second volume, Cixin’s ambition for this saga starts to come into focus. The question of first contact is settled, and the nature of the alien’s approach is known: this is to be a takeover of our planet. But how can we deal with a race so much more advanced than our own, constant surveillance by extra-dimensional forces, and fractured elements of humanity working against us?
If The Three-Body Problem was a first contact novel done as hard science-fiction, The Dark Forest is an alien invasion novel, albeit one in which the actual invasion is still many, many years away. It’s the first time Cixin starts using hibernation to leap through decades and even centuries, spanning huge chunks of time as humanity changes and evolves in the face of an arrival which will change everything. As humanity struggles to find ways to either defend itself or show that it means no harm, the race has to deal with its own fears of inevitable defeat or a desire to retreat from the only planet we’ve ever known.
It’s not as if The Three-Body Problem wasn’t already ambitious, but The Dark Forest is on a whole other level, dealing with interplanetary fleets, lightspeed travel, quantum computing, and more, watching as they evolve over huge swaths of time. But more than that, the novel is a deeply philosophical one, discussing the nature of life in the universe, questions about human nature and how we react in the face of threats, how we work together (or not), and game theory in how we try to handle uncertain intentions in allies and foes alike. Indeed, the central metaphor that gives the book its title (which doesn’t arrive until near the novel’s end) is a stunning one that helps you understand that what Cixin is writing about isn’t just this particular alien invasion, but about the nature of all life in the universe and how we attempt to define ourselves in the face of reality.
That Cixin does this while, again, mixing in such a compelling story (focusing especially on the “Wallfacers”, a small group of people tasked with covertly planning humanity’s resistance against the invasion) is nothing short of remarkable. The Dark Forest builds beautifully off of the questions and ideas raised in The Three-Body Problem, but turns them into something else entirely, changing the questions from “how do we initially react” to “how would we redefine ourselves in the face of such news”. Far from suffering from any sort of “middle book syndrome,” The Dark Forest is incredible, engaging with incredible concepts but never neglecting the human characters that anchor its massive scope nor the ticking clock at its story’s core.
To explain this series is a difficult challenge, to put it mildly. This is a series that spans a huge amount of time, deals with advanced scientific concepts in complex terms, grapples with rich philosophical and political ideas, debates questions without easy answers, and gives you a scope that can be daunting. It’s a story of alien invasions, yes, but one in which the action sequences we’re so used to are replaced with existential dread, a rethinking of our own lives, and a fear of the unknown that’s hard to quantify. It’s also the story of people caught up in these times, trying to give themselves a good life while never forgetting the larger questions of their era, and juggling their own fears with fears for humanity. In other words, it’s what hard science-fiction is great at – thoughtful questions, big ideas, and speculation, all of which change the way you think about the world.
This series is a truly incredible achievement, one that honestly left me a bit staggered and reeling as I attempt to think about it all, but one that I love all the more for what it accomplishes. If you’re a hard science-fiction fan, or simply someone who loves dealing with the complex ramifications of common ideas, this is a must read series. I’ve never read anything like it in my life, and I’m a richer person for the ideas it’s inspired me to think about.
The Dark Forest audiobook Series Shifters Unbound
At first I didn’t think it was as good as the first book because it starts with a lot of set up but then the final 200 pages was my mind being blown on every single page. This was definitely the Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy.
Audiobook The Dark Forest by Cris Dukehart
The book itself is a wonderful blend of science, conspiracy, astronomy and philosophy, linking these key themes of the book together with lots of unpredictable and thrilling turns. The whole construction of the plot overall was truly stunning: the way the story panned out; the linking of everything by the end; the relationship between the two civilizations, including the final scene between Luo Ji and the trisolaris, was truly mind-blowing – the final ending particularly, as it really closed the book for me because it was just so perfect. The footnotes throughout the book giving context to references that otherwise would have confused me were also very helpful.
I was genuinely stunned and amazed by the book; when I put it down it took me a while to comprehend what I had just read – it was such a beautiful book. The theory of cosmic sociology (the Fermi paradox), the buildup to the finale and the final explanation was mind-blowing and beautifully crafted – representing everything that science fiction should be. I am definitely recommending the book to all lovers of science fiction.
Audio Bear Attraction narrated by Cris Dukehart
After finishing the Three-Body Problem, I went straight on to this sequel. It was a very different novel in many ways, with quite different strengths and weaknesses. It starts a few years after the end of the first book and ends more than two hundred years later, and there’s little to no reappearance of characters from book one even in the early sections.
Right from the beginning, the world feels different. In the first book, it was the real world, as we know it, with just some hints of mystery and strangeness. Here, the whole world is aware of the approaching Trisolarian fleet, and cultures and economies and outlooks are changing in response, making everything feel much more futuristic and sci-fi even though only a few years have passed. I thought it did a good job in attempting to answer the question of how the world would react knowing that aliens would invade in four hundred years time and the extent to which we should make sacrifices now and seek near-impossible solutions, or accept our fates and live for the moment.
Once the book jumps forward in time, things feel more stereotypically sci-fi, with most of the action taking place in space and the depictions of life on earth also seeming more fantastical. This part was still inventive and enjoyable, just not quite as original and attention capturing, and I did miss the modern Chinese vibe that made the first book and the first part of this one so unusual.
On the plus side, I thought the dialogue and characters were much better here. There were quite a few POV characters, and while some of them blended into one a bit or didn’t hugely capture my imagination, Luo Ji, probably the foremost main character, was pretty memorable and attention-capturing.
Free audio Bear Attraction – in the audio player below
As the second book in the series “The Dark Forest” is a minor improvement over “The Three-Body Problem”, but the writer still has a long way to go. Gripping is not a word I would apply to this novel. There’s very little action, and what’s there is drawn out and over-described, which gives a snail’s pace to what should be a dynamic section. There are many more characters in the story this time, but they are still two-dimensional, cardboard cutouts who all speak the same and talk way too much. As such, the dialogues still retain their preachy quality from the previous book. Even the only likable character from “The Three-Body Problem”, inspector Shi Qiang, couldn’t escape being pushed into the mould of samey characterisation and loses a lot of his abrasive charm in this volume.
There are whole sections of this book that could be cut out without in any way affecting the narrative or the story, that’s how padded it is. The Chekhov’s Gun principle is broken over and over again by introducing characters and plots that go nowhere and are abandoned. Excessive exposition, drawn out conversations, endless internal deliberations only bored this reader instead of keeping him glued to the pages. While reading “The Dark Forest” I kept having flashbacks to George R.R. Martin’s later books in the Song of Ice and Fire series: people talk. All they do is talk. Everyone talks. They talk while eating, sitting, travelling, or just standing around. Nothing interesting happens for a great majority of the book. Just talk. It actually says something about the novel’s quality when the most interesting things happen on the last ten pages instead of throughout the 500 that the book actually holds.
On the upside, the translation is better than the first book’s. It’s a pity they didn’t keep this translator for the third book.
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